History of GLREA
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) was founded in 1991 "to promote the design, construction, manufacture, marketing, sales, use and education of the general public in the practices of renewable energy sources in the Great Lakes Bioregion." GLREA and its members believe that a greater use of renewable energy is important to improving both the economy and environment of Michigan.
GLREA was originally headquartered in Traverse City where its members held the first Energy Fair in 1991 at Northwestern Michigan College. Energy Fairs were also held in Traverse City in 1992 and 1993. In 1995, several graduates from the Jordan Energy Institute's Science for Renewable Energy Technology program were elected to the GLREA Board of Directors and moved the organization's activities to Lansing. The Energy Fair was held in downtown Lansing in 2000.
In 2000, GLREA became the Michigan partner for the U.S. Department of Energy's Million Solar Roofs Initiative in order to further the goal of identifying and removing barriers to the deployment of photovoltaic systems. Training of photovoltaic (PV) system installers was an important part of this solar initiative.
From 2005 to 2009, GLREA held the Michigan Energy Fair in Onekama at the Manistee County Fairgrounds. In 2009, over 4,500 attended the event in Manistee with over 140 exhibitors and 150 volunteers. The 2010 Energy Fair was held in Novi and the Fair returned to the Lake Michigan shore in 2011 and 2012 when it was held in Ludington.
The Michigan Energy Fair has been the ongoing major event for GLREA, but GLREA has also hosted a number of statewide conferences. The Michigan Wind Conference in 2009 at Cobo Hall in Detroit brought together manufacturers, installers, universities, and government agencies to discuss wind energy issues and the economic opportunities for Michigan. The event drew people from all over the globe with 27 exhibitors and over 1,500 people in attendance.
GLREA has provided seminars on renewable energy and energy efficiency in many locations throughout Michigan. The seminars have primarily been focused on helping homeowners and small businesses interested in purchasing a solar or small wind system. "Go Solar" outreach and education programs were held from 2004-2010 in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Oakland County, and Kalamazoo.
GLREA has also been an advocate for state and local policies to encourage a greater use of renewable energy in Michigan. GLREA and its members pushed for a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and net metering and these policies were enacted into law by Michigan state government in 2008. After the RPS was enacted, GLREA helped a number of counties and townships with wind energy zoning and siting issues.
GLREA continues as the statewide non-profit that promotes renewable energy by advocating for stronger state policies and by informing and educating Michigan citizens, organizations, and leaders on how they can achieve a greater use of renewable energy and its many economic and environmental benefits.